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    WILL FRADKOV BECOME RUSSIAN PREMIER?

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    MOSCOW, March 1st, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Mikhail Fradkov's candidacy has been forwarded for premiership and will be considered by the State Duma (lower house) on Friday, March 5th.

    President Vladimir Putin has sent a letter to State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov on Monday, forwarding Mikhail Fradkov's candidacy in line with Article 83 of the Russian Constitution and requested a permission of the lower house to appoint him government chairman.

    Fradkov's candidacy was named on Monday during the second round of the Kremlin consultations between the president and the leadership of the parliamentary majority in the State Duma.

    "We were faced with a difficult task of choosing a potential candidate for the premiership to the country. It should have been highly professional and honest person having a good experience of work in different areas of state activity. We have come to a unanimous conclusion that this should be Mikhail Fradkov, Russia's Ambassador to the EU in the ministerial rank," the president after the consultations.

    In turn, the Duma Speaker and leader of the United Russia, Boris Gryzlov, told journalists that the lower house would consider the prime minister's candidacy on Friday, March 5th.

    In his words, consultations between the potential prime minister and the Duma factions will begin tomorrow. "United Russia believes that Fradkov's candidacy should be supported," said Mr. Gryzlov.

    He described Mr. Fradkov as a genuine and fair fighter against corruption. "I worked with him closely when I was the interior minister. I know him as a genuine and fair person, a real fighter against corruption," the speaker told journalists.

    According to the speaker of the lower house, Mr. Fradkov will "have the opportunity of heading a government that will pursue strategic reforms in the country." "Mikhail Fradkov is a highly professional person who has worked in the Trade Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Economic Ties, and headed the tax police," Mr. Gryzlov said and added that Mr. Fradkov was an economist, a lawyer, and had defended a thesis in economics.

    Mr. Putin signed a decree to dismiss the government on Tuesday, February 24. Viktor Khristenko has been appointed acting prime minister. By the same decree, Putin instructed the Russian government to continue performing its functions until the new cabinet is formed.

    The head of state declared his intention to forward a candidacy of a potential premier to the State Duma within the set period of time in accordance with the Russian Constitution.

    The State Duma is to support or turn down the president's candidacy within a week.

    Within a week after his appointment, the chairman of the Russian government is to submit proposals to the head of state on the new structure of the federal executive bodies.

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